Each child is different, and the amount of sleep a child needs varies depending on certain factors, including their age.
Below are some general guidelines regarding how many hours of sleep children require at various ages.
|Age||Nighttime sleep (in hours)||Daytime sleep (in hours)||Total (in hours)|
|1 week||8.5||8 (4 naps)||16.5|
|1 month||8.5||7 (3 naps)||15.5|
|3 months||10||5 (3 naps)||15|
|6 months||11||3.25 (2 naps)||14.25|
|9 months||11||3 (2 naps)||14|
|12 months||11.25||2.5 (2 naps)||13.75|
|18 months||11.25||2.25 (1 nap)||13.5|
|2 years||11||2 (1 nap)||13|
|3 years||10.5||1.5 (1 nap)||12|
While the number of sleep hours does matter, what is even more important is how well-rested a child appears and behaves. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician if you suspect your child is showing signs of sleep deprivation.
What are the benefits of proper sleep for children?
Sleep is the foundation of the healthy development of young children. In general, children need a lot of sleep, and most will spend about 40% of their childhood asleep.
Benefits of adequate sleep include:
- Motor skills: If your child appears clumsy or unfocused, it may be because they are not sleeping enough. Sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on the brain and body, which also affects physical coordination.
- Growth: Adequate sleep helps your child grow properly. When your child is asleep, a growth hormone is produced, which is why sleep is so essential to your child’s development.
- Healthy weight: Older children who don’t get enough sleep are at risk of gaining weight. Sleep deprivation releases stress hormones in the body, which promote stress eating. So sometimes it’s beneficial to let your child sleep in. It ensures that they don’t miss out on the recommended 9-11 hours of sleep for their age.
- Learning: A good night’s sleep helps enhance your child’s cognitive abilities because they are more capable of focusing on the task at hand.
- Healing: Since the body repairs itself when at rest, young children who get enough sleep are likely to heal from wounds and bruises faster compared to those whose sleep is often disrupted.
Research shows that up to 40% of children and teenagers have sleep problems, including trouble falling asleep or interrupted sleep. Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on behavior, emotions, attention, social relationships, and school or work performance.
If you are concerned that sleep problems are affecting your child’s well-being, schoolwork, or relationships for more than 2-4 weeks, seek advice from your doctor.
How to help your child get a better night’s sleep
- Try soothing techniques, such as cuddling, pacifying, swaddling, or rocking.
- When your baby starts to doze, put them in their crib.
- Encourage self-soothing.
- Encourage nighttime sleep by creating a relaxing environment (dark, cool, relaxing sounds, or white noise).
- Stay consistent with a bedtime routine even when sleep regression occurs and your baby wakes up for no reason.
- Keep night visits brief to encourage your baby to fall back asleep.
- Keep a consistent sleep environment for bedtime and naps where possible.
- Encourage soothing activities before bed, such as a warm bath or head massage.
- Encourage your child to sleep in their own room.
- Consider giving them a comfort item, such as a stuffed animal.
- Consider putting a night light in the room if your child is afraid of the dark.
- Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet.
- Refrain from keeping a TV (or any other devices) in the room.
- Establish rules about a consistent sleep routine and enforce them.
- Set limits for bedtime.
- Keep electronic devices off and outside of the room.
- Consider creating a rule where all screens should be turned off before bed (computer, TV, tablet, phone, etc.)
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